In most cases, when one thinks of adoption, they imagine a child being taken into a loving “forever” home. Virginia law, however, allows for the adoption of an adult, though specific circumstances must apply. For instance, a stepparent may adopt an adult stepchild if that stepparent has stood “in loco parentis” to the child for at least three months. Standing “in loco parentis” means standing “in place of a parent.”
In addition, a close relative of an adult may institute proceedings for the adoption. Under the applicable Virginia Code § 63.2-1242.1, a close relative is defined as a “grandparent, great-grandparent, adult nephew or niece, adult brother or sister, adult uncle or aunt, or adult great uncle or great aunt.”
The Virginia Code also permits a petitioner to adopt an adult if the person to be adopted is the birth child of the petitioner or has lived in the petitioner’s home for at least three months prior to reaching age eighteen. Finally, Virginia permits the adoption of an adult by a legal stranger or non-relative as long as the person to be adopted is at least fifteen years younger than the petitioner and the petitioner and the person to be adopted have known each other for at least one year.
In proceedings where the person to be adopted is an adult, consent of the legal or biological parents is not required. However, the person to be adopted must provide his or her consent to the adoption. In order to give consent for the adoption, the person to be adopted must be of sound mind and provide consent willingly.
Further, while many types of adoptions require a home study, or an investigation and report of the petitioner’s home, the home study requirement is generally left within the court’s discretion when the person to be adopted is an adult. Virginia adoption laws only mandate that the home study be conducted for an adult adoption where the person to be adopted is the petitioner’s birth child or has lived in the petitioner’s home for at least three months prior to turning eighteen.
Adoption, regardless of whether it is of an adult or minor, divests a biological or legal parent of all rights and obligations regarding the person to be adopted. In cases where the person to be adopted is a minor child, this includes rights to custody or visitation and the obligation to provide child support. In addition, all types of adoptions have implications for inheritance rights. In particular, inheritance rights of the adoptee with respect to his or her biological relatives are severed, while the adoptee gains the right to inherit from the adoptive parent as if he or she were a biological child.
If you are considering an adoption, be sure to consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss the process and legal implications of adoption. The family law attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C. have years of experience with adoption cases. From our five convenient office locations, we represent clients across Northern Virginia. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.